Rourkela keeps Man-elephant clashes under control via Operation Gajraj

The Rourkela Forest Division (RFD) has reported a noticeable improvement in keeping man-elephant clashes under control. The credit goes to ‘Operation Gajraj’ launched by the Forest department two years ago.

‘Operation Gajraj’ helps keep track of the movement of elephants. Additionally, the implementation of solar fencing and trenches in the division has helped keep the pachyderms away from humans.

Rourkela DFO SK Swain says the effort is reaping rewards as instances of damage to human settlements by elephants have declined considerably. He gave credit to the special squad comprising foresters, guards and casual workers, who were assigned to monitor the movement of the wild jumbos – leading them away from human settlement.

The squad has been provided with communication gadgets and vehicles fitted with VHS radio. This helps them exchange information with the control room. “Real-time movement of elephants is being shared on Odisha Forestry mobile app,” said Dilip Sahu, assistant conservator of forest.

A team has also been stationed at Bondamunda control room to keep elephants away from railway tracks. Notably, the Panposh, Bisra and Rajgangpur ranges are reported to be home for around 25 elephants.

Clashes Decreasing

In the current calendar year, no loss of human life has been reported due to elephant attacks under the RFD. In contrast, three fatalities were reported under the division last year.

‘Operation Gajraj’ has managed to keep a check on human deaths. However, the deaths of elephants continue to rise in the division. In the last two years, RFD has reported around five elephant deaths.

Odisha has seen a rise in man-elephant conflicts recently. A research conducted by a non-profit wildlife group reported that 527 people have been killed in the last 6 years in Odisha due to elephant attacks. Perhaps the state needs more of such initiatives to ensure the safety of wild elephants.

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